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Staff

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BLAKE SCHNIRRING - EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

BLAKE SHNIRRING  - TREASURER

Blake grew up in the inland Northwest and attended the University of Idaho. In 1989 she left Idaho for Los Angeles where she spent the next thirteen years in business development for publishing and technology industries. In 1999, she relocated to the East Coast where she continued to build success in business development for technology, fitness, and retail industries. Blake was a member of the oral storytelling group Mouse Muse before she decided to put her memoirs to paper. She found Westport Writers' Workshop and fell in love with their workshops and community spirit. In 2015, Blake joined the Board of Directors and has served as Treasurer and Chairman of the Board of Directors. She is excited to serve as Executive Director and continue to nurture Westport Writers' creative writing workshops, outreach programs, and community events. Blake lives in Westport, CT with her husband, two children and two dogs.

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ELIZABETH FOLEY - OFFICE MANAGER

BLAKE SHNIRRING  - TREASURER

Elizabeth Foley, grew up in South Jersey, moved to California after college to begin her career in office management in the entertainment industry. After many years in LA, she moved to Charlotte, North Carolina where she grew her skills in office management, project management and content marketing.

 

Elizabeth relocated to Connecticut in 2022 with her family and joined Westport Writers Workshop shortly after. She is excited to be a part of the WWW community and serve as the Office Manager for years to come. When she's not working, you can find Elizabeth out and about with her family, enjoying photography, being active and traveling.

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LIZ MATTHEWS - PROGRAM DIRECTOR

BLAKE SHNIRRING  - TREASURER

Liz is a writer and editor who received her M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts (2008) and M.A. in English Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Liz began her professional career in publishing, both at a literary agency and as an Editorial Assistant at Random House before teaching middle and high school English at Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Quality Women’s Fiction, Town & Country, Literary Mama, Brain Child, Mothers Always Write, The Rumpus, and Big Fiction Little Truths among other places. Liz teaches Introductory & Intermediate Fiction, Flash Fiction, and Creative Writing.

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LELAH BAKER RABE - SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER

BLAKE SHNIRRING  - TREASURER

As an entrepreneur and a self-published author, Lelah Baker-Rabe has social media experience dating back to the early 2000s. She is happy to help the Westport Writers' Workshop be a vibrant presence in the writer community in Fairfield County and beyond.

Board of Directors

Our Board of Directors works hard to ensure that our programs and workshops meet the needs and criteria of our students. They each come from a background that showcases their love and passion for reading, writing, and volunteering.

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ANNE LONERGAN - BOARD CHAIRMAN

Anne is a graduate of St. Lawrence University, with a B.A. in Literature. Her sales and marketing career took her from New Jersey to Connecticut, where she eventually settled back into her home town of Westport, with her husband, Lance, and their four children. Anne volunteered extensively in the Westport school system, focusing on literacy support and art education. Five years ago, she discovered the Westport gem that is the Westport Writers’ Workshop, and she began her fiction-writing career. She writes short stories, flash fiction, and essays and has been published in Brain, Child Magazine and Flash Fiction magazine.

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MICHELLE BRADLEY - TREASURER

Michelle loves words. She loves books, libraries, independent bookstores, and readings. She thinks the greatest invention of all time is the Guttenberg Printing Press.  

Michelle especially loves the Westport Writers’ Workshop. She joined the Board as Secretary in 2016. She served as the Executive Director for two years before moving to Chicago to join her husband in his new job. In Hong Kong, Michelle wrote for several English language publications: she co-wrote and edited the revised expat guide - How To Set Up In Hong Kong; she reported for Asia Precious, a jewelry trade magazine; and she wrote articles for the American Women’s Club monthly newsletter, and edited their annual cookbook.   In Bangkok, she was Chairman of Charity for BAMBI, an expat organization, and she served as Vice President of the historic Neilson Hayes Library for four years. Before moving abroad, Michelle spent thirteen years working in Democratic politics in Richmond, Virginia and Washington, DC. She writes personal essays and flash, often infused with poetry and nature prose. Her poetry has been published in Brain Teen

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LINDA WATERBURY - HEAD OF FUNDRAISING

Linda Perani Waterbury encourages everyone around her to write! Her belief that each person has a voice has translated into creating a new writing program for middle school girls at the Boys and Girls Club in Stamford. Educated at Skidmore College, Class of ‘80, Linda raised two daughters with her husband, Jim, while living in three foreign countries and various cities across the USA. Her sales and marketing career began in NYC with Saratoga Mineral Water. She’s worked at Lehman Brothers, Compton Advertising and The Legal Times division of Harcourt Brace. Throughout both the college years and the child-rearing years, Linda has taken on leadership roles in her local community, serving as an enthusiastic fundraiser for many organizations, including WWW, SAVE the Children, Skidmore College and Hamilton College. For many years, she has also taught Sunday school at St. Michael’s in Greenwich, CT.

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BETH CRISWELL - SECRETARY & CHAIR OF GOVERNANCE

Beth Criswell has been writing with Westport Writers’ Workshop for over five years where she has developed her craft and enjoys diving into her YA high fantasy world series.  She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), and brings prior experience as a member of other local nonprofit boards and organizations, and as an attorney.  

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KATHLEEN SULLIVAN - CHAIR OF OUTREACH

Kathleen Sullivan began writing at Westport Writers Workshop five years ago. With a background in freelance journalism, she began writing creative non-fiction in a variety of classes and workshops. Most recently, Kathleen has ventured into fiction writing and the challenge of developing a more disciplined practice. She joined the board two years ago and is delighted to currently co-chair the service committee with Anne Lonergan. Kathleen has volunteered for the Wilton Library and the Wilton Public Schools. She has also contributed to Good Morning Wilton. She lives in Wilton with her husband, their three sons, and a yellow Labrador with nine lives and a death wish.

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LEILA SHIELDS

Leila Shields has enjoyed the inspiration and instruction offered by the Westport Writers Workshop for many years, experiencing classes with various instructors and students in both memoir and fiction; she’s currently at work finishing her first manuscript. Dedicated to the arts, she serves on the board of Norwalk’s Shakespeare on the Sound. Currently a middle school Language Arts teacher at Wilton’s Montessori School, Leila was previously a writer and editor with Condé Nast Publications, specifically for Allure, Self, and Women’s Sports & Fitness Magazines. She’s a graduate of Yale University and Phillips Academy Andover, where she currently contributes as a Head Agent and member of Andover’s Alumni Council and Development Board. She lives in Westport with her husband, three children, and two dogs.

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DEVON PIKE

Devon Pike has a deep love for storytelling, and its power to transport, inspire and create shared experiences. She has been writing with the Westport Writers Workshop since 2016. Her first published work, The Girl in the Tree, was released in Unlimited Literature magazine, Summer 2020. In addition to her writing life, Devon is a leader in the fashion and retail industry, known for transformational roles at Ralph Lauren, Juicy Couture, DeBeers Diamond Jewellers, Givenchy, Gap, and Baggallini.  Devon holds a BA in Comparative Literature from Brown University and MBA from the Harvard Business School. Tennessee born and Ohio raised, Devon Pike lives in Rowayton, Connecticut with her 9-year-old daughter Grayson and their black lab Stormy.

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KANWALROOP KATHY DHANDA 

Kanwalroop Kathy Dhanda is passionate about the environment and the protection of natural resources. She is a Professor of Management at Sacred Heart University and her scholarly work focuses on sustainability issues. She has published about 40 journal articles and co-authored two books.  She loves to read and travel in her free time.  Recently, with the encouragement of instructors at the Westport Writers’ Workshop, she has begun working on a memoir and short stories that she hopes to publish someday.  Kathy graduated cum laude from Angelo State University and received her doctorate degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.  She lives in Wilton with her husband, Adrian, and her two children, Arman and Ariana. 

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ALYSSA KATZ

Alyssa Katz writes about anything and everything and has been published in a variety of journals. She is currently working on a collection of poems and flash essays. Alyssa has participated and enjoyed many classes at Westport Writers over the years and credits the wonderful instructors for inspiring prompts. When not stewing over a poem, Alyssa writes and performs stand-up comedy hoping to improve the world one joke at a time. Having a legal and mediation background, Alyssa joins the Board at Westport Writers as a governance representative.